Plantar Fasciitus : Running Injuries

Runners are susceptible to heel injuries because such a large amount of pressure is exerted on the feet during running. If the feet are put under an enormous amount of strain over a long period of time, the muscles and tendons can become weakened, resulting in injury.

What is the Plantar Fascia?

This is the thick, fibrous layer that covers the sole of the foot. It helps to maintain the arch of the foot and distributes weight across the foot when you run. Damage to the plantar fascia is a common cause of heel pain in running.

How Can the Plantar Fascia Become Damaged?

The plantar fascia can become inflammed, torn or even ruptured completely if it is subjected to too much force on a regular basis. The damage usually occurs at the point where the plantar fascia attaches to the bone in the foot. Repetitive strain is a common cause of plantar fasciitus. Over-pronation (turning your feet inwards too much when you are running) increases the tightness in the Achilles tendon, can put an undue amount of pressure on the plantar fascia.

Wearing ill-fitting running shoes that don’t support the arches of your feet may cause over-pronation, increasing the risk of injury. Changing your training regime by running on unfamiliar terrain or increasing your mileage for example, may also make the plantar fascia more vulnerable to damage because your feet are being forced to exert themselves in a way they are not used to.

Symptoms of a Damaged Plantar Fascia

If the plantar fascia is damaged, runners will probably feel a sudden sharp pain in the heel, which will be much more intense at the start of a run.

Protecting Yourself Against This Type of Injury

Don’t overtrain and make sure that you give your feet sufficient time to recover between training sessions. Overworked muscles are more likely to get injured. Ensure your footwear offers adequate protection and wear insoles that support the arches of your feet. This will help to prevent over-pronation and relieve the pressure that is placed on your plantar fascia and Achilles tendon during running.


Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or a wet towel that has been cooled in the fridge will help to relieve the pain. Taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen will also reduce your discomfort immediately after sustaining the injury. You might be advised to temporarily wear a splint at night to keep the heel stretched and prevent the arch of the foot contracting.  This will reduce pain and stiffness in the foot the following morning. It may also be necessary to reduce the amount if training you do or rest completely until the plantar fascia heals. The more rest you get, the quicker it will heal. When the pain has subsided, a course of physiotherapy that focuses on stretching the plantar fascia by pulling the toes upwards will help to strengthen it. In 95% of cases, surgery is not required to repair a damaged plantar fascia.

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